HAMMOND, Ind. — Officials with the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Indiana announced Friday that the office and Purdue University reached a pre-suit settlement surrounding allegations about a professor in the university’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

According to a news release, the university will pay the government $737,391 to resolve the allegations under the False Claims Act, which includes restitution and punitive damages.

Officials said Alice C. Chang, an associate professor in the university’s College of Veterinary Medicine, reportedly falsified data in two published papers and 17 grant applications submitted to the National Institutes of Health and the Department of the Army between February 2014 and June 2020.

When the university received evidence questioning the authenticity of Chang’s research, the release said the university cooperated and investigated the alleged misconduct. Based on Purdue’s findings the release said the university agreed with the federal government that “the funding was not deserved and should be returned.”

“Academic integrity is the cornerstone of scientific research, and we take our commitment to protect U.S.-funded research grants seriously,” U.S. Attorney Clifford D. Johnson said in the release. “Failure to be truthful on an application for U.S.-funded grants is a violation of the law and my office will continue to make it a priority to pursue cases to recover grant funds awarded through fraud.”

The release said that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Research Integrity has also entered into a voluntary exclusion agreement with Chang, banning her from any contracting or subcontracting with a United States agency for 10 years. Under the agreement, Chang will also request her published papers be corrected.

In a statement provided by Purdue University, officials said:

When in mid-2018 the university received notice from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services calling into question the authenticity of some results that Dr. Alice Chang had included in proposal submissions to federal funding agencies since 2014, Purdue University cooperated and thoroughly investigated the alleged misconduct. When Purdue’s investigation was nearing conclusion in mid-2019, Dr. Chang left the university.  

Based on its investigation, Purdue agreed that the funding was not deserved and should be returned. Purdue did not agree to any punitive damages. The HHS Office of Research Integrity applauded Purdue’s cooperation and investigative efforts and commended it for a quick and thorough response. 

Purdue University